Experience the rich culture, natural beauty, and adventure of Guatemala on this 10-day itinerary. You'll stroll through the well-preserved colonial town of Antigua, with its cobblestone streets, ruins, elaborate churches, and bustling market; visit Lake Atitlan and its three surrounding dormant volcanoes; and explore the history of the Maya ruins at Tikal.

Highlights

  • Visit the charming town of Antigua
  • Explore the famous ruins of Tikal
  • Kayak and hike at Lake Atitlan
  • Hike up an active volcano

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Antigua Walking Tour & Cooking Class Antigua
Day 3 Volcan de Pacaya Day Hike & Spa Combo Antigua
Day 4 Bike & Coffee Combo Tour Antigua
Day 5 Travel to Lake Atitlan & Village Tour Lake Atitlan
Day 6 Kayaking & Hiking on Lake Atitlan Lake Atitlan
Day 7 Lake Atitlan to Antigua & Iximché Ruins Visit Antigua
Day 8 Antigua to Tikal Tikal National Park
Day 9 Explore Tikal National Park Tikal National Park
Day 10 Depart Flores  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua

Antigua’s famous Santa Catalina Arch
Antigua’s famous Santa Catalina Arch

Welcome to Guatemala! You'll meet your driver at the Guatemala City international airport for a transfer to Antigua, roughly an hour away.

Day 2: Antigua Walking Tour & Cooking Class

View of Antigua and Volcan de Agua from Cerro de la Cruz
View of Antigua and Volcan de Agua from Cerro de la Cruz

Meet your local historian guide in the morning and set out to explore the beautiful city of Antigua. This former capital boasts an impressive catalog of colonial relics in a magnificent setting. Streetscapes of pastel facades unfold beneath three volcanoes. Many old religious and civic structures are beautifully renovated, while others retain tumbledown charm, with fragments strewn about park-like grounds. On this tour you will visit the City Hall Palace, Palace of the Captain’s General, the Cathedral with its majestic ruins, Maya archaeology through the spiritual stone of jade, and the best museums in town at Paseo de los Museos. 

Relax after the tour on your own, but try not to eat too much. In the afternoon, you'll head to a cooking class where you will spend three hours learning how to cook Guatemalan cuisine, a mixture of traditional colonial Spanish and indigenous Maya cooking. Your cooking class will be taught by native Guatemalan chefs, natives of Sacatepequez who have specialized in the regional cuisine handed down from one generation to another. Outside of the main dish, you will also learn to prepare Guatemalan tortillas and a local dessert. And, of course, enjoy the results of your lesson after class.

Day 3: Volcan de Pacaya Day Hike & Spa Combo

Lava field of Pacaya Volcano
Lava field of Pacaya Volcano

Get an early morning start for a guided climb up the Pacaya Volcano. Pacaya's slopes and unique landscapes are some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya is a storybook volcano with a continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and a massive dried lava field at the base of its caldera.

The moderate-difficulty hike takes about 2 hours to the top, but horses are an option for those that would rather enjoy a more relaxed trip up.

Enjoy a picnic lunch after summiting and even roast marshmallows on the natural heat from the volcano. The hike down will take you across the remaining dried lava fields before you begin your descent through Pacaya’s lush surrounding forests and farmland. After you reach the trailhead, head to a nearby thermal spa whose natural springs are heated by the very volcano you just climbed.

Start your spa time with a Thermal Circuit, immersing your body for short periods of time in natural thermal pools  ranging from 75° Fahrenheit (24°C) to 106°F (41°C), moving from hot to cold. Move on to a combined steam and hydrotherapy bath, where you can fill your own personal tub with thermal water at your preferred temperature in addition to a cold water shower and a steam bath. Top it off with a relaxing 25-minute massage. You'll have plenty of time afterward to return to the natural swimming pools and enjoy a snack and fruit smoothie before you return to Antigua in the evening.

Day 4: Bike & Coffee Combo Tour

Group MTB ride
Group ride

Meet your guide again in the morning to get fitted out for today's bicycle tour. You'll ride out to the De La Gente coffee cooperative, a significantly different coffee growing operation than a large-scale production farm. The community sits on the flank of Volcan de Agua, with local farmers who work together as a co-op to grow, pick and process their own coffee for export to markets in Europe and North America.

You'll follow one of the co-op farmers on a private tour through the fields and small-batch coffee-roasting operation before enjoying lunch together, then return to Antigua for the evening.

Day 5: Travel to Lake Atitlan & Village Tour

Casa del Mundo Hotel on Lake Atitlan
Overlooking the lake

Take a private transfer to Lake Atitlan, approximately 2.5 hours' drive away. Part of the morning will be spent on the Pan-American Highway, part of a network of roads stretching from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina. As you get closer to Atitlan, keep an eye out for views from above the lake. 

Once you arrive in Panajachel, the main town on Lake Atitlan, you will start a village tour by boat with your local guide. The lake consists of many smaller Maya villages, and your private boat tour will visit a few to give you a closer look into the local arts, traditions, and stories. Highlights include visiting a local women's weaving co-op and visiting a shrine to the infamous "Maximon" Maya saint, along with the picturesque scenery.

You can choose to stop for lunch during the tour, or you may prefer to wait and eat at your hotel in the afternoon. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax, enjoy a swim in the lake, and take in the views.

Day 6: Kayaking & Hiking on Lake Atitlan

Kayaking on Lake Atitlan
Kayaking on Lake Atitlan

Wake up to views of the lake and its towering volcanoes before meeting your guide for today's expedition. You'll start out in a kayak, paddling westward along the north shore of Lake Atitlan for roughly 1.5-2 hours. Pass by villages perched on the sides of cliffs rising out of the lake and take advantage of opportunities to hop in the lake or do some cliff jumping. You're heading for a spot between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave your kayak behind in favor of your hiking shoes.

Follow the lake trail that runs between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. You'll hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours, eventually returning to your lodging for another free afternoon.

Day 7: Lake Atitlan to Antigua & Iximché Ruins Visit

Iximche Ruins
Iximché Ruins

Take a boat and private transfer away from Lake Atitlan to the archaeological site at Iximché. The ruins sit in the western highlands of Guatemala, formerly home to pyramid temples, palaces, and two Mesoamerican ballcourts. Take a guided tour through the site, declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s, before you get back on the road to Antigua.

Day 8: Antigua to Tikal

Antigua's Main Plaza
Antigua's Main Plaza

Today you have the morning free to explore and enjoy Antigua. The city is famous for its well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture as well as a number of ruins of colonial churches. It previously served as the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In addition to the great history of Antigua, the town offers great restaurants, bars, shopping, and people watching. The local market and ruins are often high on visitors' lists to see.

In the evening, you'll head to the airport to fly to Flores, your base for exploring Tikal National Park.

Day 9: Explore Tikal National Park

Tikal's main plaza
Tikal's main plaza

Your day today is devoted to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tikal National Park. The site is known for its Maya ruins, complete with towering pyramids and sprawling columns. It was the capital of one of the ancient Mayas' most powerful kingdoms and is currently home to the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas.

Follow your expert guide through the temples and pyramids, stopping at all the major points of interest, including Temples I, II, II, IV, and V, Lost World, Complex Q, The Great Plaza, The Window Palace, and more. After a break for lunch, you'll have more time to explore the site on your own and watch for the resident wildlife along your way as well.

Day 10: Depart Flores

Flores from the air
Flores from the air

Take an early flight out of Flores to get back to Guatemala City and pick up your connecting flight home

Map

Map of Highlights of Guatemala - 10 Days
Map of Highlights of Guatemala - 10 Days